The Most Important Book Marketing Secret

by Karen Sargent

When I signed my first publishing contract, I was elated…and petrified. My forever dream of seeing my name on a book cover was coming true!

What could be more exciting for a wanna-be author? The answer is easy. Nothing!

And what could be more terrifying? That answer is easy, too. What if no one buys my book? After all, why would they? I’m an invisible, no-name, insignificant author.

Then, two weeks after I signed my contract, I accidentally discovered the most important book marketing secret. I’m going to share it with you, but before I do, I must ask a few questions.

Let’s pretend your new book releases tomorrow. Who will buy it? Think of five people who will—without a doubt—pay money to read your book. Write down their names, or at least say their names aloud. This is important, so take a few seconds. I’ll wait…

(Don’t read on until you have your list!)

Now that you’ve identified your five people, let’s see who they are.

Is your mom on the list? How about your dad? Cross them off.

Did Grandma and Grandpa make the list? An aunt or an uncle? Cross them off, too.

How about your brother or sister or son or daughter or cousin? Yep. They have to go. In fact, let’s remove anyone related to you.

Mark off your best friend, your neighbor, and your co-worker. Delete anyone in your church or your writing group or your community.

Is anyone left? Do they know you by first name? Then take them off the list, too.

And now your list is blank. But don’t worry. We’re getting to the good stuff.

Why are you certain those five people will purchase your new release? What is the common denominator?

Those people care about you. They have a connection with you, and they’d be happy to buy your book—even if it’s a bad book.

So here’s the important secret. Book marketing is not about selling books. It’s about building relationship. Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” If you build a relationship with readers, book sales will come. It’s a 100% guaranteed book marketing strategy. Here’s how I know.

When it was time to query agents, my online presence was lacking. I felt unqualified to start an author website or a writing blog. But, I had two decades of mom experience, and the target audience for my book included moms, so I started a mom blog instead.

By the time I signed my book contract, I’d been blogging for three months and had about 100 followers (who had no idea I had written a book). I couldn’t wait to share my news, so I made a video and posted it to my blog. (If you want to see a dork announce her book news—click here.)

My blog followers went CRAZY! By the next day, the video had 1,500 views, my blog followers tripled, and I couldn’t keep up with Facebook friend requests.

What if I hadn’t started that mom blog three months prior to my contract offer? Who would have cared that a publisher wanted my book? (My mom, my husband, my best friend…) Instead, my publishing journey was crowded with friends who couldn’t wait for Waiting for Butterflies.

There’s more. I revealed my book cover the same day my book was available for pre-order on Amazon, and guess what? More CRAZY. That day is still my second highest book sale day. Once the book released, Facebook friends posted pictures with their copy of Butterflies, along with their reactions once they finished reading, and I hadn’t even asked them to! With each post, I watched Amazon sales increase.

Relationship. If you build it, sales will come. So how do you build it?

Obviously, my mom blog was a serendipitous beginning (thanks to my severe case of imposter syndrome) that turned out to be a smart accident. If you’re thinking about starting a writing blog or a book review blog, is there a different approach that would target your audience more directly?

Blogging isn’t the only way to build relationship. I cherish the friends I’ve made by interacting on others’ websites, in Facebook groups, and on book launch teams. So if you’re in the habit of stalking those communities, introduce yourself. We’ve been waiting for you!

If building relationship is the most important secret about book marketing, here’s the most important secret about building relationship. You must be genuine. If you have an ulterior motive, it will show.

A rewarding relationship with readers is built just like every other meaningful relationship you have: Give more than is expected. Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.

Click to Tweet: “Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.” ~ Karen Sargent @Inspired Prompt #writetip #marketing

Writing Prompt: Bree didn’t hear him walk up behind her, but she knew he was there.

Karen Sargent is an award-winning author whose debut novel, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES, is the 2017 IAN Book of the Year. She writes “stories that stir the soul” with characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts. A romantic element is woven within. She also blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and online at Writer’s Digest and Southern Writers Magazine Suite T. She is the volunteer coordinator for WFWA and a member of ACFW, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the SEMO Writers’ Guild. When she’s not writing, Karen teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at

Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.







24 thoughts on “The Most Important Book Marketing Secret

  1. What a wonderful post! I agree with you, Karen. It’s all about relationships. I love the friends I’ve connected with through social media. I enjoy “talking” with my readers and with other bloggers. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I agree, Sandra. I can’t imagine being an author before internet and not having such a meaningful way to connect with readers and other writers. As a reader, I love getting to know authors through their FB pages, author interviews, blogs, etc. As writers, is there any better encouragement than an email or FB post or message from a reader who just finished your book? This reader/writer community is like a second family!

  3. I first met Karen when she spoke on this very topic last summer. (By the way, for any group who needs a speaker, she is fabulous!) Genuine interest in others creates a connection far more valuable than five daily “Buy my book!” posts on social media.

  4. SO, SO good (and true!) It’s all about “relationships.” Nothing makes us run away faster than a non-stop stream of “Buy my Book!!!”

    Honestly, Karen, there was so much buzz about WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Truly, one of the BEST books I’ve ever read.

    Wishing you TONS of success, my friend!

  5. Karen, what a wonderful post and you’re so right! It’s all about relationship and you’ve done an incredible job of loving people in person and online. Many blessings to you!! I can’t wait for book two!

  6. Pat, thank you for always boosting my confidence! I can’t wait to put “relationship” to work when your book releases! I owe you a whole lot of cheerleading! 🙂

  7. Thanks for this, Karen and Gail! “Selling” something is hard for me, but getting to “meet” other interesting people isn’t quite so intimidating 🙂 Thanks for good encouragement and reminders!

  8. I know what you mean! It wasn’t that long ago that I heard the word platform for the first time and thought, “What’s platform?!” When I learned the answer, I wish I hadn’t asked! 🙂 In my experience though, platform grows slowly and steadily (for the most part). I’ve had a few bigger spurts here and there, but mostly just consistent growth (and still a long way to go). I see those marketing emails or articles, “Get 10K Followers in a Month!” I’ve learned to ignore them. 🙂

  9. Building relationships. It’s vital for an author, but it doesn’t always come naturally. I’d say it’s definitely the place I struggle with most.

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